Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Gondola loads

 Here are some easy ways to load up your gondolas.

1. Dirty up the empties - Empty model gons have two problems: they are too light, and too clean. We can add some weight by placing a flat steel weight salvaged from a boxcar right on the bottom. The weight from a 40' box car fits nicely in a 40' gon, as seen below. Next, we will dirty it up so it is not so obvious what we have done. Gons always have some debris in the bottom. Gather some workbench and floor sweepings, sift them through a colander or screen to eliminate the big chunks. Paint the bottom of the gon (or the steel weight, in this case) with thinned white glue and sprinkle a bit of detritus around. A little goes a long way!

click to enlarge

2. A real scrap iron load: I noticed from rust flaking off the inside of the rear bumper on my truck. I gathered the pieces and broke them up smaller with a hammer. Loaded them in the gondola and dripped some thinned white glue over them to secure them.

click to enlarge

3. Pipes or rebar:  I saw a local freight go by with a load of rebar recently, so I wanted to create something similar. I had a box of insulation support wires which I cut up to make a load. You can paint them yellow or green to simulated epoxy-coated rebar. These support wires some with a anti-rust oily coating so they need to be washed in soapy water before painting. These get heavy real quick, so I just put one layer on top of some stripwood spacers. 

click to enlarge

4. Rails being scrapped: This one was fun. Jointed rail used to come in 39' lengths to fit in 40' gondolas. I had some nasty old brass track from my first layout, and used it to make a load of old rail being scrapped. Just strip off the ties, and paint the rails brown. Don't worry about keeping them straight! Just pile them in with a few blobs of clear RTV silicone sealant here and there to keep them in place.

click to enlarge

5. Sheet metal coils: This is a little more involved. These are rolls of new sheet metal being delivered. The rolls are plastic spacers which came with a TV wall mount kit (you can also get them separately). Spray paint them aluminum color, and mount in cradles made of stripwood.

click to enlarge


Saturday, February 12, 2022

Replacement brake wheels

 Here is an economical replacement for missing brake wheels: 8mm metal dress snaps.

These are found in the sewing department of many stores such as Walmart or Amazon.  I found a card of 24 for $6.99 on Amazon. They come in 4mm, 6mm, 8mm, and 10mm. I use 8mm for HO scale.

The measurement specification is for the (unused) larger, female half.  Buying the 8mm size will provide a 8mm female (unused) and a 6mm male (which is about the right size).

Just separate the two halves of the snap. Discard the female half. Enlarge the hole  in the freight car if necessary. Put a drop of Krazy Glue in the hole, then press the male half of the snap into the hole.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Easy window air conditioners

 Need some easy HO scale window air conditioners? Cut the head off a zip tie, paint it white, filling the opening with paint. When it dries, add some silver paint to the hole area to simulate the finned condenser. Stick it on your window and you’re ready for summer!